Now that spring is in full force, one thing is on every hunter’s mind – turkey hunting. Equally fun and challenging, turkey season gives hunters everywhere a good excuse to dust off their boots from the long winter and get back out in the field. To bag and bring home a bunch of gobblers this year, use this guide to help you with everything from calls and decoys to apparel and weapons.
When and Where?
Every state now has a spring turkey hunting season, which, depending on your region, can start anywhere from early March to early May and end anywhere from end of April to the beginning of June.
To know where in your state or region you can hunt turkey, check with your state’s wildlife agency for public hunting areas. Or, for more information on turkey hunting in your state, check out this handy tool from Realtree. This tool covers everything from license pricing to the local turkey population, with a rating for each state.
Hunting calls attract turkeys to hunters by mimicking the sounds of other turkeys. While that may sound simple, there are about 30 calls that turkeys use in the wild, all with a different purpose for each time and place. Most hunters rely on two primary calls, the cluck and hen yelp. While using a box or slate entices the turkeys, the mouth calls allow you to coax them in while still having both hands available for shooting.
The beginning of turkey hunting season is mating season, where male gobblers are scoping out potential hen mates. These first few weeks are a prime time to utilize the hen yelp, since it will attract interested gobblers. Hold the hen yelp for the length of about three to eight notes to accurately mimic the hen and grab a gobbler’s attention.
Towards the end of the mating season, once hens begin to roost and hatch, male turkeys will start forming male groups again. During this period, a hen call won’t be as effective. Instead, utilize your clucks to trick gobblers into thinking there’s another male turkey nearby.
Outside of clucks and yelps, there are tree calls, purrs, old hen yelps, and many more. Several of our products like the HME Six Shooter Turkey Game Call have incorporated multiple calls so you can test which calls are most successful for your area. After all, the best way to test out your calling strategy is to get out there.
Because turkeys have remarkably good eyesight and are always seeking out other turkeys, utilizing a turkey decoy can be a smart strategy to coax a turkey into view and hold their attention long enough to take your shot. Decoys can be used during any stretch of the season, whether it’s finding a hen decoy to attract gobblers or a strutter decoy to rile up other gobblers.
However, there are a few scenarios when decoys might not perform. If the area has been heavily hunted over the season, turkeys may wise up to the decoy tactic and avoid them. Or, in areas where there are dense plants or timber, turkeys may have a hard time spotting your decoy from far away. Most importantly, if you’re hunting during a busy season, it can be dangerous to stay close to a decoy that another hunter may confuse for a good shot.
Turkeys have remarkably good eyesight. With that in mind, it’s essential that you go out in head-to-toe camouflage. You should be wearing a camouflage shirt, pants, gloves, jacket, and face mask or face paint to properly conceal yourself. Depending on where you live, you’ll want one set of camouflage with grey and brown tones for the beginning of the season and one set with brighter, greener tones for the second half of the season.
To keep your tools, calls, and game bags nearby, we recommend sporting a hunting vest as well. These offer all the space and comfort you need throughout the day, without being bogged down with gear. As far as boots go, you’ll want to find a comfortable and durable pair. Turkey hunting requires you to cover some serious ground and you’ll want to find a pair of boots that are up for the challenge. Keep in mind your area’s weather and geography, opting for the right materials if you’re in wet or rocky terrain.
Turkey hunting calls for your trusty shotgun. If you’re going for a bare bones approach, a single pump shotgun will do the trick. Of course, you’re only going to get one shot though, which puts you at a major disadvantage. Pump action shotguns are particularly popular among turkey hunters and there are interchangeable choke tubes so you can use this weapon for different game.
Semi-automatic shotguns are the luxury weapon of choice for turkey, but at a pretty steep price tag. Hunters using semi-automatic shotguns normally use the weapon for other types of hunting as well, so keep that in mind if you’re thinking about splurging on the purchase. Options like the Beretta A400 or A350 are both great choices.
To easily carry your shotgun, you’ll want a gun sling for comfort and support. It’s also worth noting that several hunters use fiber-optic open sights, electronic red dot sights, and low-power shotgun sights to get a good shot.
By using the right strategies and bringing along the right tools, this turkey hunting season can be your most successful yet. To find the best optics, weapons, and gear to help you tackle the season ahead, browse SWFA.com for all of your outdoor needs.